Boehner: We’ve Got a Doc Fix … for Now

With a permanent agreement stalled, Congress has a one-year plan to prevent a cut in doctors’ payments.

Speaker of the House John Boehner.
National Journal
Billy House
March 26, 2014, 8:58 a.m.

John Boehner says the House and Sen­ate have cut a deal on an­oth­er tem­por­ary patch to pre­vent a massive cut to doc­tors’ Medi­care pay­ments.

The bill is ex­pec­ted to be taken up in an ex­ped­ited pro­cess in the House on Thursday, as part of a non­con­tro­ver­sial sus­pen­sion cal­en­dar.

Doc­tors face a 24 per­cent cut in their Medi­care pay­ments if Con­gress doesn’t act by March 31. Medi­care’s pay­ment for­mula calls for ever-in­creas­ing cuts, which Con­gress al­ways delays. Doc­tors would rather have a new for­mula than an­oth­er stop­gap.

The House speak­er told re­port­ers Wed­nes­day that House and Sen­ate ef­forts have not con­cluded in try­ing to find a longer-term fix. He said there is bi­par­tis­an, bicam­er­al agree­ment on the path for­ward, only not yet on “how we’re ever go­ing to pay for it.”

The House passed a $137 bil­lion per­man­ent fix on March 14, which re­lied on sav­ings tied to the re­peal of the Af­ford­able Care Act in­di­vidu­al in­sur­ance man­date. But that was re­jec­ted by Demo­crats who lead the Sen­ate, and it faced a pres­id­en­tial veto threat.

The tem­por­ary, smal­ler bill in­cludes spend­ing off­sets from re­duc­tions in oth­er Medi­care spend­ing; also, some of its costs are paid for by re­align­ing se­quester sav­ings set to oc­cur in 2025 to 2024.

apor­tion of its costs.Spe­cific­ally, a por­tion of the bill’s “sav­ings” are achieved by simply shift­ing­sequester sav­ings set to oc­cur in 2025 in­to 2024, with­in the Con­gres­sion­al BudgetOf­fice’s scor­ing win­dow, but this has zero ac­tu­al im­pact on the debt

Spe­cific­ally, the Pro­tect­ing Ac­cess to Medi­care Act of 2014 would pre­vent the 24 per­cent cut in re­im­burse­ments to doc­tors who treat Medi­care pa­tients by re­pla­cing it on April 1 with ad­op­tion of a 0.5 per­cent up­date through Dec. 1. There would be no per­cent­age changes for the three months fol­low­ing that through April 1, 2015.

Along with ex­tend­ing pay­ments un­der what is form­ally known as the Medi­care Sus­tain­able Growth Rate for­mula through March of 2015, the bill also in­cludes fund­ing for vari­ous oth­er ex­pir­ing Medi­care pro­vi­sions.

Much of this is paid for though pro­vider cuts and the Medi­care se­quest­ra­tion sav­ings time shift tied to the $2.3 bil­lion set-aside for SGR in the budget deal worked out in 2013. It also delays sched­uled re­duc­tions in pay­ments to so-called dis­pro­por­tion­ate-share hos­pit­als by one year.

Oth­er Medi­care-re­lated pro­grams that would be ex­ten­ded for a year in­clude the geo­graph­ic prac­tice cost in­dex, the am­bu­lance add-on pay­ments, and the Medi­care Ad­vant­age Spe­cial Needs Pro­gram. It also ad­opts mar­ket-based private-sec­tor pay­ment rates for lab ser­vices.

The bill also ex­tends through 2015 the Spe­cial Dia­betes Pro­gram and Ab­stin­ence Edu­ca­tion and delays for one year im­ple­ment­a­tion the ICD-10 cod­ing sys­tem for dis­eases and treat­ment pro­ced­ures un­der the Medi­care pro­gram. That clas­si­fic­a­tion sys­tem is in­ten­ded to en­sure that hos­pit­als are doc­u­ment­ing the cor­rect treat­ment and pay­ments for those treat­ments.

What We're Following See More »
IN ADDITION TO DNC AND DCCC
Clinton Campaign Also Hacked
9 hours ago
THE LATEST
1.5 MILLION MORE TUNED IN FOR TRUMP
More People Watched Trump’s Acceptance Speech
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Hillary Clinton hopes that television ratings for the candidates' acceptance speeches at their respective conventions aren't foreshadowing of similar results at the polls in November. Preliminary results from the networks and cable channels show that 34.9 million people tuned in for Donald Trump's acceptance speech while 33.3 million watched Clinton accept the Democratic nomination. However, it is still possible that the numbers are closer than these ratings suggest: the numbers don't include ratings from PBS or CSPAN, which tend to attract more Democratic viewers.

Source:
×